MLK Jr.'s Sons Celebrate 50th Anniversary Of 'I Have A Dream' By Suing His Daughter

from the making-dad-proud-the-only-way-they-know-how dept

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, a dream that one day his sons would sue his daughter over the control of his body of work — and on the fiftieth anniversary of his famous speech. As he boldly stated 50 years ago, the only way to ensure racial harmony is through familial infighting.

If Dr. King were alive today, along with having to offer his opinion on Miley Cyrus, he’d be shocked to hear his famous speech paraphrased this way — and his legacy being handled in this fashion. He would also likely be astonished that each anniversary of his speech is marked by vanishing Youtube videos and the arrival of DMCA notices and cease and desist orders.

But that’s what we have, thanks to his legacy being “safeguarded” by siblings who sue each other.

In a lawsuit filed Aug. 28 in Fulton County Court, the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. Inc. — run by King’s sons, Martin Luther King III and Dexter King — claims it licensed the civil rights activist’s intellectual property rights to The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in March 2009.

The King Center’s CEO is Bernice King, the youngest child of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in 1968.

Dr. King’s estate claims it supports the center’s mission to maintain King’s legacy and has been the nonprofit’s single largest individual donor for the past decade.

“Supports it,” but only up to a point, apparently. Not that Bernice King is exactly blameless.

[I]t says the center has been careless with Dr. King’s intellectual property, which includes the leader’s “name, image, recorded voice and memorabilia,” along with “all works of authorship … including writings, speeches, sermons, letters and copyrights,” trademark interests, and “the remains and coffin contained within the crypt of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

The estate says it conducted an audit in April, which “revealed that the current manner of care and storage of the physical property by defendant is unacceptable.” It claims the items are “susceptible to damage by fire, water, mold, and mildew, as well as theft.”

King’s sons say they tried to work with their sister to fix the problems, but the relationship “has recently become strained, resulting in a total breakdown in communication and transparency.”

So, on one hand, we have King’s estate, which has never missed an opportunity to capitalize on the “I have a dream” speech and, on the other, someone who clearly doesn’t value what they have. If nothing else, Bernice King should put her soon-to-be-gone collection the hands of people (other than her siblings) who know the value of returning certain “property” to the public. (Perhaps someone like this history professor🙂

And King’s estate holders need to return a speech given publicly back to public and stop turning this momentuous event into nothing more than a series of transactions. His sons have to have some idea of how the public views their mercenary exploits. They can’t be that obtuse, can they? Or do they think their father would be proud to know his voice and likeness is more likely to be used to emancipate people from lousy wireless service than to be spread throughout the internet in order to inspire new generations of Americans?

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Comments on “MLK Jr.'s Sons Celebrate 50th Anniversary Of 'I Have A Dream' By Suing His Daughter”

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art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

i wish that would leave a mark, but i’m thinking saint obama is just as sociopathic as the rest of them…

only, obama/et al are WORSE than j edna hoover: he only targeted a relative few high-profile loudmouths and dissenters; while choco jesu is ‘targeting’ EVERYONE…

where are today’s welch that says, ‘at long last, have you no shame…’
unfortunately, i know the answer to that one: no, they don’t have any shame…

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

JBDragon says:

Re: Re:

The problem is how can you Copyright all this stuff and for so long??? The Guy is dead and has been dead. It’s should all be free and open by now anyway. That’s one of the issues I have with copyright as it is. It goes on FOREVER when it was never meant to!!!

Look as something as OLD as Mickey Mouse and it’s still Copyrighted and it should have expired long ago, and yet somehow it’s been extended a few times. Once again never ending!!! Nothing these days seem to expire. It goes on and on and on and on instead of into the Public Domain.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You almost had it up until the last sentence. We also see plenty of similar behaviour in the white community. There’s nothing wrong with criticising these people, but singling out a race while doing so indicates that King’s dream is not yet realised.

Next time, just point out how they’re “good for nothing lazy kids”, and it will be valid no matter the race of the subject. The disclaimer doesn’t negate the fact that you singled out a race for criticism. Just stick to singling out greedy people who’d rather ride their dead ancestors’ coattails than work for a living, and we’ll all agree.

Shaun Snapp says:

Re: Re: Black Scamming

The revelations about BLM is that they cheated their chapters and those families they supposedly raised money for out of money. BLM is a fake charity essentially that funds a lavish lifestyle for its owners. Now we have the MLK family story where MLK’s heirs copyright a speech that MLK plagiarized. How does the family have a copyright on a speech that MLK copied from other sources?

DOlz (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“And we see this same attitude all over the black community today.”

He’s right you know. Just look at some of those other lazy blacks riding on their dead parent’s coattails. Like J.R.R. Tolkien’s son, The Walton heirs, generations of Rockefellers, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s descendants, and the list goes on and on.

Just so you know I was being sarcastic. Normally I wouldn’t bother to point that out, but since you don’t seem to get irony (“NOT racist” followed by ending your post with a racist comment) I wanted to be clear.

Anonymous Coward says:

I must have missed the part in MLK’s will where it said for his kids to lock up his speech and fight over it for 50 years.

In fact I wonder if he actually willed ownership of his speech to his kids anyway. If he didn’t, wouldn’t that mean he didn’t see it as property?

Either way, maybe I should include in my will a line that says that my kids can’t be fighting over my possessions for 50 years or they lose it all…

V says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, works published and copyrighted 1923-1977 retain copyright for 95 years, assuming all renewal requirements were met. Works first created on or after January 1, 1978 enter the public domain 70 years after the death of the author if the author is a natural person. Works first created on or after January 1, 1978 enter the public domain 95 years after publication or 120 years after creation whichever occurs first for a corporate author (i.e., “works for higher”).

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